1. When Christians in the West speak of grace, they most frequently focus on the cross of Christ. Are there other significant (and even symbolic) events during the life of Jesus that demonstrate grace? What are those events?
2. (John 3:16; Rom 3:19-26; Eph 2:1-10) These three passages (along with many others!) tell of God”s love and grace, shown to us through the gift of Jesus.
A. Romans declares that all humanity is sinful. Paul also declares that Jesus died as a “sacrifice of atonement” (Rom 3:25, NIV) for us. If God is a God of grace, why could he not forgive without a substitutionary sacrifice? What did the sacrifice accomplish?
B. How do we personally receive the forgiveness that flows from the cross? In other words, how do we accept the gift of grace that is offered?
3. The Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide argues that “there is no one theory or combination of theories that will do justice to the marvel of God”s grace.” Besides the objective, substitutionary view of the atonement, what are some of the other theories or metaphors which the Bible writers use to help us understand what happened at the cross? Is there something which all of these metaphors have in common?
4. Ellen White suggests that we will continue to study Christ and his cross through all eternity (AA273). This would suggest that there is a depth and richness in the cross which we cannot now fully comprehend. Since this is the case, what should our attitude be as we discuss the “science” of the cross with fellow believers who may not agree with us?
5. (1 Cor 1:22-24) Paul speaks of the cross as a stumbling block. In what way was it a stumbling block to Jews? Why was the cross foolishness to Gentiles? How is the cross perceived by non-believers today?
6. Just last week, I received an email from a former student now serving in a Buddhist country. He said that in the culture where he works, the cross is “misunderstood because of its brutality and the idea that we would worship such a horrible looking God scares them.” In a culture that believes in karma and reincarnation, the death of Jesus is seen as punishment for bad deeds Jesus must have done in an earlier life. Plus, if all are reincarnated, the resurrection is not much to get excited about either. In a cultural context such as this, what biblical symbols or stories might be used to illustrate divine grace? Should we avoid presenting the cross in favor of a better understood cultural symbol? How does this question relate to question 5, above?
7. How can a church model grace? If grace is practiced, is there a danger that some will see this as license for sin? Can a church be grace oriented and yet have clear church discipline, even to the point of dropping members who have sinned?
8. Describe a time when you experienced grace. In what ways did it change you?